This page is dedicated to the symbol of the “Man in the Maze” which was created over a thousand years ago by the Tohono O'odham or Papago Indians of the Central Valley in Arizona. It is with immense respect, gratitude and humility that I use this symbol as my logo.
The labyrinth design is a style of unicursal Labyrinth topologically equivalent to the classical seven circuit Labyrinth, commonly seen in the Tohono O'odham nation (Native American tribe), characterized by seven concentric circles with the seed pattern in the centre.
Life and Choice, depicted in this common symbol, "the-man-in-the-maze" was originally created as an illustration of an emergence story by the Tohono O'odham or Papago Indians of the Central Valley in Arizona. The little man is named "U'ki'ut'l" in their language (Elder Brother, or I'itoi in other versions), and the story has it that he built a home underground in the centre of a mountain to confuse his enemies. The entrance was easy to find, but once inside people were faced with a maze of different passageways with numerous dead ends. Although he was pleased to outwit his enemies, he wanted his friends to be able to find him, so he drew a map for them. It's this diagram that's said to feature on the icon we see today.
Today there is no one meaning to the Man in the Maze. Interpretations of the image vary from family to family.
A common interpretation is that the "Man in the Maze" is a visual representation of the Tohono O'odham Indians belief in life, death and the life after death. The man at the top of the maze depicts birth. By following the pattern, beginning at the top, the figure goes through the maze encountering many turns and changes, as in life. As the journey continues, one acquires knowledge, strength and understanding. Nearing the end of the maze, one retreats to a small corner of the pattern before reaching the dark centre of death and eternal life. Here one repents, cleanses and reflects back on all the wisdom gained. Finally, pure and in harmony with the world, death and eternal life are accepted.
Another interpretation is that the human figure stands for the O'odham people. The maze represents the difficult journey toward finding deeper meaning in life. The twists and turns refer to struggles and lessons learned along the way. At the centre of the maze is a circle, which stands for death, and for becoming one with Elder Brother, U'ki'ut'l the Creator.
Yet for others the design depicts the story of each human being travelling through life as through a maze, taking many turns while growing stronger and wiser, but always approaching death, as represented by the dark centre. In the Maze, the path of life begins at the periphery and progresses towards the centre, but each major turn of the path is away from the centre. Despite this seeming contradiction, the end of the path is the centre of the maze, which is death. As one approaches death, one is able to look back on the completed journey with its many turns and to find acceptance of the last step.
The Gila River Indian Community -- the Akimel O'odham -- refer to the Man in the Maze as the Se:he or the Elder Brother, who is their Creator. The journey of life is a journey through a maze, beginning at birth and continuing through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and finally ending in old age. The four major turns in the path represent the four directions, and the centre of the maze represents death. Death is the beginning of a new journey and, thus, the cycle repeats itself.
It has also been adopted by other people because it is significant of life's cycles and eternal motion and also of the choices we are confronted with. The right choices lead us to a point of harmony with all things, no matter how hard or long the road taken. The man in the maze represents the multitude of choices we face in the course of life. Life can be a difficult journey, with many ups and downs, twists and turns along the way. As the journey continues, we learn lessons, gain knowledge and understanding, until we finally make it to the central goal and complete our life's purpose. The centre of the labyrinth is dark, as the journey can be also viewed as one from darkness to light.
The words ‘setting free that which is within’, which are above the symbol are my words and represent the core ethos which drives Life & Motion.